Celebrity chefs know the value of adding fresh herbs and spices to their creations and have encouraged home cooks to experiment with them in their own kitchens.

But, few of us have a kitchen garden where we can snip a few sprigs of this and that to use in tonight’s dinner. And besides, who has time for the garden, or the snipping?

Container gardening to the rescue. Planting an herb garden in a container on your patio -- or even in a decorative pot on your kitchen counter can add flavor and freshness to all of your culinary creations.

Herbs are hardy plants that are easy to grow. Most prefer a sunny location, loamy soil that drains well, and just a little bit of water. A variety of herbs can be grown together in one large container, making care and harvesting simple and convenient.

container gardening herbsCredit: http://www.wgbh.org/

Start Small
Begin with just a few herbs. Simon & Garfunkel listed them in a song long ago: parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme. I’d add basil to their list. These five herbs are fairly common and frequently used in recipes. Include other herbs that you use on a regular basis in your kitchen garden container as well. 


harvested herbsCredit: http://www.saltshaker.net/Harvest Them
Allow herbs to grow up to 6-8” before harvesting them. When you want to use them, clip the stem close to a leaf intersection, and about 1/3 of the way down. This will encourage the plant’s regrowth. Paying attention to the regrowth of each herb will refine your harvesting techniques so that you can regrow your plants quicker and keep them healthier.

Use Them
Adding herbs to just about any dish will make it taste fresher, and look more appealing. Chopped parsley is a great addition to any green salad. Sage and rosemary pair well with poultry and pork dishes, and thyme can be added to scrambled eggs, or mixed into butter to spread on bread or meats. 

Store Them
herb cubesCredit: hstrial-adickinson1.homestead.comMost herbs will grow faster than you can use them, even if you are using them on a regular basis. There are many ways to store the excess harvest. You can dry the herbs by setting them out on a plate in a dry, cool place for several days. For short term storage, simply wrap them loosely in plastic wrap and keep them in the refrigerator. Or, add the chopped herb to olive oil, and pour the mixture into ice cube trays and freeze them.

Including herbs in your container gardening this year. Easy to start, grow, and harvest, a herb garden is a great way to experiment with new ingredients that add flavor and freshness to your cooking.

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